This Week's Curator: Janet Benitez of Rosewood Initiative.
Janet Benitez is a 23-year-old first-generation Mexican American. She grew up in the Rosewood neighborhood right across the street from where she works now at Rosewood Initiative as a Resource Navigator. In addition to her full-time job, Janet recently started a Master of Social Work program at PSU. She got her BSW, as well as a BA in Spanish, from George Fox University. Janet loves to go on walks, connect with people, and she is learning how to garden.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
I grew up on 162nd and Stark and my mom is a business owner inside Su Casa Imports across the street from where we lived. So I feel like I never really moved away especially since I work on 162nd as well, as a resource navigator at the Rosewood Initiative. I have always enjoyed getting to know people of different cultures and the diversity in East Portland. Outer East Portland seems pushed away to me in terms of resources and infrastructure and advocating for these things in our area is hard when you're just trying to survive, pay bills on time, and support your family with limited transportation, scarcity of grocery stores, affordable housing, lack of mental health resources, etc. There are many things that I can go on about, but I also believe in the resilience and strengths of the community.
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
I love the food! I love going to El Cazador Taco Truck, Chepes for volleyball and pupusas, Tortilleria y Tienda De Leon, and the Fruit Stand inside Su Casa Imports for fresh cut Mango!
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
There are many hidden gems in the area from parks, community gardens to restaurants, and little markets.
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
A sense community and safe/productive activities for families and neighbors to come together and get to know one another.
How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?
I feel like it’s underrepresented in the media and am happy to share a glimpse of Portland and the diversity.
What keeps you up at night worrying?
I worry a lot about the future with all the politics and systems that dehumanize people of color and our neighbors and families.
What gives you hope?
It gives me hope to see community being built whether that be in person or online.
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
I wanted to share the places of Outer East Portland that I love.